Salt Lake City 2002, Men’s Luge
Known for his trademark charm and decorated military service, Jimmy Stewart remains one of the most beloved movie stars of all-time. So after disappointing Nielsen ratings for the Games’ opening ceremony, the International Olympics Committee tried to capitalize on Stewart’s celebrity by announcing they would unearth his long-dormant corpse and hurl it down the 2,300-meter-long luge track. Millions tuned in to watch Stewart’s body rocket down the mountain, reaching a top speed of ninety miles an hour and securing the bronze in the men’s singles division.
Norway 1994, Downhill Ski Jump
Possessing striking good looks and enough talent to play the lead in screwball comedies, romantic dramas, and crime thrillers alike, Cary Grant embodied American cinema. But perhaps his most memorable performance didn’t come until nearly ten years after his death, when the IOC dug up his grave on broadcast television to recapture the attention of a disinterested 18-24 demographic. Grant’s limp carcass was propped up with poles, strapped into skis, and sent plummeting down the slope for a respectable jump of 238 meters—the sight of his lifeless body soaring through the alpine sky remains one of the most enduring images of the modern Olympics.
PyeongChang 2018, Paired Figure Skating
Looking to raise the stakes for an audience that was now almost completely numb to seeing the graves of Hollywood’s biggest stars desecrated, the programming division of the PyeongChang Games pulled a marketing Hail Mary by allowing the excavated corpses of both Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck to compete in the paired figure skating event. When Peck’s bloated cadaver slumped over into Hepburn’s, transferring enough momentum for her decayed body to land a perfectly executed triple axel, they didn’t just wow the judges—they endeared themselves a new generation of fans.
Lake Placid 1980, Men’s Ice Hockey
Everyone remembers the famous “Miracle on Ice,” when the Soviet Union’s championship hockey team was toppled by an American squad comprised almost entirely of amateur players and Judy Garland’s crumpled, waterlogged corpse. While the annals of Olympics history have immortalized Mark Johnson’s first-period buzzer-beater and Jim Craig’s lockdown performance between the pipes, you may have forgotten Garland’s rostering on the team was initially a mere PR stunt to boost an already-invested American public. That all changed when Garland’s lifeless cadaver spun across center ice to trip up Soviet forward Vladimir Krutov, and when Mike Eruzione’s go-ahead goal was deflected off the former Wizard of Oz star’s partially-exposed skull. While her contributions may be overlooked, true fans know that the greatest sports moment of the 20th century wouldn’t have been possible without the long-dead body of Judy Garland on the ice.